We all know that the emotional damage bullying has on a child can last well into their adulthood. But now, a recent study has also cast a light on the connection between bullying and future drug use.
Between 2004 and 2011, researchers from the American Academy of Pediatrics followed almost 5,000 students from Alabama, Texas and California. During the study, they interviewed the students when they were in fifth grade, seventh grade and 10th grade. Researchers concluded that students who were bullied when they were in the fifth grade were more likely to use marijuana, alcohol and tobacco by the time they reached 10th grade.
Learn more about different kinds of bullying, signs, and ways you can prevent it from happening below.
Kinds of Bullying
Many times, playful teasing or “horsing around” doesn’t lead to any serious issues and shouldn’t concern adults. It is the aggressive, and most importantly, unwanted interactions between kids that experts call bullying.
Here’s how stopbullying.gov outlines the different categories of bullying:
Verbal bullying includes saying or writing mean things. This could be name-calling, mean-spirited teasing, threats and more. Social bullying (or relational bullying) is an attempt to hurt someone’s reputation or relationships. It involves public embarrassment, spreading rumors and more. Physical bullying involves hurting someone’s body or things. It is punching, kicking, slapping, pushing, taking or destroying someone’s things and more.
Cyberbullying takes place online. It includes mean or harassing text messages as well as rumors, embarrassing pictures or videos posted on social networking sites like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.
So when should you suspect your child is being bullied? Experts point to a few signs that could indicate trouble. They include: lost or destroyed possessions, unexplained cuts or bruises, a sudden change in friend group and/or personality, an unwillingness to be alone around peers (on the bus or in the bathroom), a sudden drop in grades and more.
How to Prevent Bullying
Here are a few ways parents and caregivers can try to prevent their young loved ones from being bullied:
- Communicate – Make sure you check in with your child every day. Ask them about what happened during their school day. You want to make sure they know they can always come to you if they have a problem. Also, be sure to discuss bullying (in general).
- Show Them How to Act –Modelling good behavior goes a long way. When your child sees you treating other people with respect and kindness, they are likely to do the same.
- Be involved – Keep an open line of communication with your child’s teachers and the school counselor (introduce yourself and provide your contact info at the beginning of the year), attend “Back to School” night and other school events, and get to know the parents of your child’s classmates if possible.
- Encourage school activities – According to studies, students who participate in extracurricular activities (sports-related or not) are less likely to be bullied. Such activities provide a consistent base of friends and can help build your child’s confidence.
Stopping the bullying that happens in elementary school plays an essential part in preventing potential drug use in later years.
Go to stopbullying.gov for more information on bullying and learn how you can get help.